Puckett wants Donnelly response to Obama “bitter” comment

Article published Apr 15, 2008

ED RONCO
South Bend Tribune Staff Writer


A Republican seeking to challenge U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly in November says the freshman congressman should “denunciate” controversial statements made by Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama, D-Ill., was trying to explain problems he had winning over working-class voters, whom he said are frustrated with the economy.

He said: “It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Obama has defended the sentiment of his statements, but has said he expressed them poorly.

A statement from Republican challenger Luke Puckett said Donnelly has remained “astonishingly silent” on Obama’s remarks.”Donnelly’s refusal to denunciate Obama’s offensive remarks suggests Joe Donnelly believes Hoosiers are bitter people just because they are people of faith, support the Second Amendment, and hold Midwest values,” Puckett said in the statement.

But Andrew Lattanner, Donnelly’s campaign manager, said in a statement that he can’t speak for Obama and won’t speculate on what the senator meant.

“I will say, however, that the people of north central Indiana, whether they live in small communities or cities, are, like Joe Donnelly, sincere in their love of the Constitution and their devotion to their personal faiths,” Lattanner said.

Puckett’s campaign also said Donnelly should make it clear whom he’ll support as a superdelegate to the party’s convention in August.

Election experts say the Democratic nomination could be decided by superdelegates, who get a vote at convention by virtue of their status within the Democratic party. Donnelly has told The Tribune in the past that he will cast his superdelegate vote based on a combination of how Hoosiers vote in the May 6 primary, his own judgment and on which candidates visit the state and address the issues he cares about, such as keeping jobs in Indiana and veterans’ needs.

But Puckett’s campaign points to $7,500 Donnelly received from Obama as a sign of Donnelly’s support for the Illinois senator.

That money came in the form of three $2,500 donations from Obama’s Hopefund Inc., a political action committee the Illinois senator established. Two of the contributions were made in October and November 2006, prior to Donnelly’s election.

The third contribution came on Sept. 27, 2007.

The statement from the Donnelly campaign did not address the money received from the Obama campaign.

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